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Cotton info market draws investors
By Zhang Jin (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-11-22 08:49

China's fledgling but growing cotton information market is attracting attention from international investors, with two of the world's leading information firms rolling out plans to increase their presence in China.

Globecot Inc, the US-based cotton information provider, plans to launch a website by the end of this year or early next year to offer Chinese and international cotton information in both English and Chinese, according to Gong Wenlong, chief executive officer of China Cotton Information Centre (CNCIC).

CNCIC is Globecot's Chinese partner. They entered a strategic partnership in July and vowed to form a 50-50 joint venture.

"Although the venture has not been officially registered, CNCIC and Globecot have begun information swaps and technical co-operation," Gong Wenlong, CNCIC's chief executive officer, told China Daily.

Gong is confident the portal could attract 2,000 paid users within three years. He plans to set subscription fees at an average of US$2,500 a year.

The two sides have already launched the Globecot-CNCOTTON International Cotton Price Index, based on Asian and Pan-Pacific markets, in September. The index will be a "thermometer" of the world's cotton prices, Gong said.

Meanwhile, the UK-based Cotlook Ltd, the world's leading cotton and textile market information provider, also plans to launch a series of products via a joint venture it has formed with two Chinese partners.

Beijing Cotton Outlook (BCO), as the JV is named, was created in August by Cotlook, China Cotton Association (CCA), the umbrella organization of the Chinese cotton industry; and the China National Cotton Exchange (CNCE), the body responsible for spot auctions of government reserves and e-trading for forward delivery.

"We are going to promote our products through website, mobile messages, journals and tailored information services for special users by combining CNCE and CCA's local resources and Cotlook's international experiences," BCO General Manager Sun Juan told China Daily.

Commenting on the prospects of the sector, Gong and Sun said they believed it has ample room to grow.

"International cotton traders are keen on any changes on the Chinese market, while local players have an increasing awareness of orienting their plans on information," said Gong.

Sun said: "Market players paid little attention to obtaining information a few years ago when China's cotton market was not liberalized."

The need for information is all the more pressing since China's cotton industry has been greatly integrated into the global market, and domestic cotton prices are subject to the market instead of State direction or instruction.

And steep slumps in cotton prices in the last quarter of 2003, which led to great losses for textile companies and cotton distributors, also made them keen on obtaining timely information, in a manner without precedent.

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